Wine corks, the only thing between us and our beloved glass of vino. We see them used as the new DIY craft materials or find them in fancy jars in someone’s house. And of course, we all know their original purpose of keeping our favorite wine fresh.
But have you ever wondered what material is actually in a wine cork? And are all corks the same?
Different types of wine actually need different types of cork material. Keep reading to learn all there is to know about what’s in your cork!
First things first, why is cork the material of choice? Well, the internal structure of cork is like a honeycomb and is full of empty space. This makes the cork material very lightweight and not very dense, meaning it floats on water.
This type of material is perfect for cushioning, sound absorption, and shock absorption. Cork is also resistant to fire and rot and is easily molded into various shapes.
Harvesting the cork sustainably makes it a truly awesome material. And although cork has a multitude of uses, the wine industry is the top consumer of this material.
Where Cork Comes From
This naturally versatile material comes from the outer layer of bark on cork oak trees. These trees mostly grow in the Iberian and Mediterranean region have an average lifespan of 150 years.
Making up this outer layer of bark is dead cells and through the process of using a special hatchet to harvest this material, the trees go completely unharmed. Once the material has been taken from the trees it is typically left outside to cure for around 6 months, then it’s treated with heat and water. This now more flexible and soft material is ready to turn into a cork for your drinking pleasure.
Not All Cork Is Created Equal
The main goal of your wine cork is to preserve the wine for long term storage however, not all wine cork material is the same. Depending on the specific needs of the wine you’re storing, different types and sizes of cork will need to be used.
“Natural Cork” is a broad term used to describe corks made from 100% natural materials and these come in three main varieties; one piece, multi-piece, and colmated.
“One piece” natural corks are perfect for long term aging of wine because they naturally expand and keep their strength for a long time. “Multi-piece” corks are pieced together with scraps from the cork bark and are typically used for wines that don’t need long-term aging.
And you guessed it, “Colmated corks” fall right in the middle. These corks are used on wines that don’t need longer than 3 years of aging and only allow small amounts of air to reach the wine.
Another popular type of cork is the “Agglomerated cork”. These corks are a blend of natural and synthetic material and are typically made for wines that aren’t being stored for a long amount of time.
Considering Wine Cork Material
Now that you know the ins and out of the various cork materials being used, you can make better decisions as both a consumer or producer. If you are buying wine from a company using agglomerated corks you’ll now know that wine should be consumed with a year or so vs a company who is using a higher quality natural cork.
As a producer its important to make sure you’re using the proper type of cork to keep your product tasting its best. For more useful information like this check out our website!